Egan Bernal says he abandoned the 2020 Tour de France on Wednesday for health reasons.
The reigning champion, who was out of contention for the yellow jersey at the end of the second week, pulled out ahead of stage 17 to the Col de la Loze on Wednesday.
The 23-year-old Ineos Grenadiers rider took to social media to explain his body told him enough.
Cycling
Evenepoel: I need to improve to challenge Pogacar, Roglic, Bernal
18/10/2021 AT 17:24
He wrote on Instagram: "Although it sounds strange, I have enjoyed every kilometre I have done on my bike, no matter how painful it was. I enjoyed it because it is my job and my passion.
"I have taken my body to the limit but there came a point where it told me enough and as a defence mechanism has blocked me."
He added: "The only and best option I have had has been to listen to my body and for my health I had to withdraw from the Tour, even wearing number one.
"This is life, this is cycling. I want to thank all the people who have sent me their good wishes. I love you so much!"
Speaking on the latest episode of his podcast, Bradley Wiggins admitted he didn't realise how bad things must have been for Bernal and for Ineos, and believes there must be real dysfunction at the team with former Tour winners Geraint Thomas and Chris Froome not even at the flagship event.
Cycling
Dowsett to attempt Hour Record in Mexico in November
12/10/2021 AT 11:06
World Championships
'I have no words' - Alaphilippe left speechless after sensationally retaining the rainbow jersey
26/09/2021 AT 15:54